BOSTON -- The Red Sox were in the middle of a closely-contested game against the Angels on Saturday at Fenway Park when the typically-dependable Franklin Morales came on and changed the complexion of the entire game.
The lefty -- pitching in relief for the first time since July 31, 2012 -- walked three successive batters in the seventh, two of which forced in runs, as Boston suffered a 9-5 loss to the Angels in the opening act of a day-night doubleheader.
When Morales came on to start the seventh, the Sox were down 3-2. That changed quickly, as Morales gave up two hits and four runs in only two-thirds of an inning.
"I felt good," said Morales. "That's a good thing. I tried to do the best I can, but I lost the location and I missed."
Rust could have been an issue. Morales hadn't pitched for the Red Sox since making a spot start in Philadelphia on May 30. In fact, this outing was used as a way of getting Morales some work, leading up to his next expected start on Wednesday at Tropicana Field against the Rays.
Felix Doubront gave Boston a quality start for the fourth straight time, allowing three runs and six hits over six innings.
After throwing 97 pitches, Doubront was "surprised" to come out when he did.
"Down a run and in the spot of the lineup where we were, with Franklin coming in, we felt like it was an opportunity to get him some work in advance of a potential spot start later next week," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Obviously we saw what happened in the seventh inning."
The inning started innocently enough, with Morales inducing J.B Shuck into a groundout. From there, things worsened. Mike Trout clubbed a double. When Josh Hamilton flew out, Morales was just one out away from keeping it a 3-2 game.
Farrell then opted for an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, which gave Mike Trumbo a two-out opportunity. The slugger delivered with a double that brought Trout home.
"There was a base open," Farrell said. "He gets ahead in the count and Trumbo does, I have to say, a good job of just putting the bat on the ball on a fastball down and away that he made a good pitch on. Just the way Pujols was swinging the bat against left-handers, out of respect for that, we felt we were still in a one-run game and unfortunately it got away from us."
Morales looked forward to the opportunity to get Trumbo.
"That's a good decision, because [Pujols is] the best hitter in baseball right now," Morales said. "I tried to keep it up with Trumbo, I tried to throw a strike, but I missed. At that point, he hit a good fastball away and that's the situation."
Howie Kendrick followed with a walk. Then Morales forced in runs by walking Alberto Callaspo and Chris Ianetta. The boo birds came out in full force at that point.
Tommy Hanson pitched just long enough, going five innings, to earn the win for the Angels, allowing seven hits and two runs while walking four and striking out four.
It was a strange day for the Boston bats, who outhit the Angels, 14-12, but had just the five runs to show for it.
Dustin Pedroia hit into a critical double play to end the sixth. David Ortiz went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and left six runners on base.
"They did a good job with some pitches in the bottom of the strike zone [on Ortiz]," said Farrell. "It looked like he just pulled off a little bit at times. Again, we had the middle of the order come a number of times to the plate with men in scoring position and today, unfortunately, it didn't work out."
The Angels got to Doubront in the second. Kendrick led off with a single to left. With two outs, Erick Aybar hit an RBI single.
In the third, Los Angeles struck again. Trout led off with a double and Josh Hamilton walked. The Angels then pulled off a double steal, putting Trout in scoring position for a sacrifice fly by Pujols. When Trumbo hit a fielder's choice grounder to short, Hamilton scored to make it 3-0.
But the Boston bats came to life in the fourth. Mike Carp opened the inning by belting a solo homer to right. With two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury walked and stole second. Daniel Nava lined a single to right that got past Hamilton, and Ellsbury scored to make it 3-2.
"It was a good offensive day on a lot of fronts," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Their pitchers were missing some spots, and we were disciplined enough to get into some good counts to hit or draw walks, and we scored a lot of runs with two outs, which was good to break the game open in the seventh inning."